Australian Open: Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff ousted in fourth round

Elena Rybakina
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Top-ranked Iga Swiatek was eliminated from the Australian Open by Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in the fourth round, busting open the women’s draw.

Rybakina, the 22nd seed who would be in the top 10 if the WTA counted 2022 Wimbledon ranking points, took out Swiatek, who won the French Open and U.S. Open last year, 6-4, 6-4 to become the first quarterfinalist in Melbourne.

“When you play against No. 1, I think you have really nothing to lose,” said Rybakina, who was playing on one of the two main show courts for the first time this tournament. “So I was trying to just attack her from the first ball, and it really worked well.”

AUSTRALIAN OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men

The Nos. 1 and 2 seeds in the men’s and women’s draws were all eliminated before the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the first time in the Open Era, according to the International Tennis Federation.

“I need to work on my, I don’t know, kind of mindset and fight a little bit more as I did last season,” Swiatek said. “I’m going to take time right now to kind of reset.

“I maybe wanted it a little bit too hard. So I’m going to try to chill out a little bit more. … I felt the pressure, and I felt that I don’t want to lose instead of I want to win.”

Last July, Rybakina became the second-lowest-ranked woman to win Wimbledon at No. 23 in the world. She was born and raised in Moscow but in 2018 switched nationality to Kazakhstan, which offered more financial support of her tennis career.

Wimbledon banned Russians and Belarusians from playing last year due to the war in Ukraine. The WTA and ATP responded by stripping the event of its ranking points.

Rybakina next gets No. 17 Jelena Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion from Latvia who beat No. 7 Coco Gauff 7-5, 6-3.

“There was moments in the match where I was getting frustrated because I normally can problem-solve, but today I feel like I didn’t have much answers to what she was doing,” said Gauff, who had more winners (21) than unforced errors (14) but was one for eight on break points, while Ostapenko converted all three of hers.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula, who beat No. 20 Barbora Krejcikova 7-5, 6-2 later Sunday, is now the highest women’s seed left and the lone American woman left.

“It’s weird being a favorite,” said Pegula, who goes into her fifth major quarterfinal looking to get into her first semifinal. “I don’t really feel like a favorite because I’m going against people that have had more success than me.

“I’ve been playing the best I have than in any of my other Grand Slam quarterfinals.”

Pegula, who hasn’t dropped a set in four matches, is looking to end the longest U.S. women’s singles major title drought this century (since Sofia Kenin won the 2020 Australian Open) and longest U.S. men’s and women’s singles major drought in the Open Era (since 1968).

In the men’s draw, American Sebastian Korda began the day as the third favorite to win the title, according to PointsBet Sportsbook, despite being the 11th-highest ranked man of the 16 left.

Korda, whose dad, Petr, won the Australian Open 25 years ago and turns 55 on Monday, then reached his first major quarterfinal by taking out Poland’s 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (7).

“When I go in the shower, I’ll yell a little bit,” to celebrate, he said. “That’s about it.”

Korda, seeded 29th, gets another higher seed, No. 18 Karen Khachanov of Russia, who swept Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-0, 6-0, 7-6 (4).

The other quarterfinal in the top half pits the top remaining seed, No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, against 71st-ranked Czech Jiri Lehecka, who upset No. 6 Felix Auger-Aliassime.

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Ilia Malinin wins U.S. Figure Skating Championships despite quadruple Axel miss

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One year ago, Ilia Malinin came to the U.S. Championships as, largely, a 17-year-old unknown. He finished second to Nathan Chen in 2022 and was left off the three-man Olympic team due to his inexperience, a committee decision that lit a fire in him.

After the biggest year of change in U.S. figure skating in three decades, Malinin came to this week’s nationals in San Jose, California, as the headliner across all disciplines.

Though he fell on his quadruple Axel and doubled two other planned quads in Sunday’s free skate (the most ambitious program in history), he succeeded the absent Chen as national champion.

Malinin, the world’s second-ranked male singles skater, still landed two clean quads in Friday’s short program and three more Sunday. He totaled 287.74 points and prevailed by 10.43 over two-time Olympian Jason Brown, a bridge between the Chen and Malinin eras.

“This wasn’t the skate that I wanted,” said Malinin, who was bidding to become the second man to land six quads in one program after Chen. The Virginia chalked up the flaws at least partially to putting more recent practice time into his short program, which he skated clean on Friday after errors in previous competitions.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Results

Brown, a 28-year-old competing for the first time since placing sixth at the Olympics, became the oldest male singles skater to finish in the top three at nationals since Jeremy Abbott won the last of his four titles in 2014. As usual, he didn’t attempt a quad but had the highest artistic score by 9.41 points.

Brown’s seven total top-three finishes at nationals tie him with Chen, Michael WeissBrian Boitano, David Jenkins and Dick Button for the second-most in men’s singles since World War II, trailing only Todd Eldredge‘s and Hayes Jenkins‘ eight.

“I’m not saying it’s super old, but I can’t train the way I used to,” Brown said after Friday’s short program. “What Ilia is doing and the way he is pushing the sport is outstanding and incredible to watch. I cannot keep up.”

Andrew Torgashev took bronze, winning the free skate with one quad and all clean jumps. Torgashev, who competed at nationals for the first time since placing fifth in 2020 at age 18, will likely round out the three-man world team.

Japan’s Shoma Uno will likely be the favorite at worlds. He won last year’s world title, when Malinin admittedly cracked under pressure in the free skate after a fourth-place short program and ended up ninth.

That was before Malinin became the first person to land a quad Axel in competition. That was before Malinin became the story of the figure skating world this fall. That was before Malinin took over the American throne from Chen, who is studying at Yale and not expected to return to competition.

Malinin’s next step is to grab another label that Chen long held: best in the world. To do that, he must be better than he was on Sunday.

“You always learn from your experiences, and there’s always still the rest of the season to come,” he said. “I just have to be prepared and prepare a little bit extra so that doesn’t happen again.”

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Mark McMorris breaks Winter X Games medals record; David Wise wins first title in 5 years

Mark McMorris
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Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris broke his tie with American Jamie Anderson for the most Winter X Games medals across all sites, earning his 22nd medal, a slopestyle gold, in Aspen, Colorado.

On the final run of Sunday’s contest, McMorris overtook Norway’s Marcus Kleveland with back-to-back 1620s on the last two jumps. McMorris’ last three Aspen slopestyle titles were all won on his final run (2019, 2022).

“It’s something I never thought would ever come to me as a kid from Saskatchewan,” McMorris, 29, said on the broadcast. “Everything’s just been a bonus since I became a pro snowboarder.”

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression of their best run over the course of a jam session rather than scoring individual runs.

McMorris won his record-extending seventh X Games Aspen men’s slopestyle title, one day after finishing fourth in big air.

“It just keeps getting crazier because I keep getting older,” he said. “People just keep pushing the limits, pushing the limits. Last night was such a downer, almost bums me out, like, dude, do I still have it? … To have one of those miracle wins where you do it on the last run and someone makes you push yourself, those are the best feelings.”

McMorris won slopestyle bronze medals at each of the last three Olympics and reportedly said last February that he was planning to compete through the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games.

Canadian Max Parrot, the 2022 Olympic slopestyle champion, is taking this season off from competition.

Anderson, a two-time Olympic snowboard slopestyle champion, is expecting her first child.

Later Sunday, American David Wise earned his first major ski halfpipe title since repeating as Olympic champion in 2018. Wise landed back-to-back double cork 1260s to end his winning run, according to commentators.

“I wouldn’t still be out here if I didn’t think I had a chance,” Wise, 32 and now a five-time X Games Aspen champ, said on the broadcast. “I’m not going to be the guy who just keeps playing the game until everybody just begs me to stop.”

U.S. Olympian Mac Forehand won men’s ski big air with a 2160 on his last run, according to commentators. It scored a perfect 50. Olympic gold medalist Birk Ruud of Norway followed with a triple cork 2160 of his own, according to commentators, and finished third.

Canadian skier Megan Oldham added slopestyle gold to her big air title from Friday, relegating Olympic champion Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland to silver.

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